SGV Adventures: Lee Kam Kee Vietnamese In Alhambra
Pho is a funny thing. I once was talking to a Vietnamese co-worker of mine about how big it’s gotten. Not even she got it. It’s good, but certainly nothing to get into a fuss over. That is, until you get a craving… We both agreed on this too… once you get a craving, nothing but Pho will do… I dunno what it is… the fish sauce, the herbs… Well, I still haven’t figured it out but I recently found myself in that ‘spot’ and luckily right down the street from school is Lee Kam Kee
Located at the corner of Valley and Freemont, this is nice-ish full service restaurant with a very pleasant staff. The prices are more than fair and in the end my order totaled about $25 bucks… Not bad for four dishes… And when my order was up… the nice man came out of the kitchen with a Box…. No… not a take out box… but a MOVING box…
I was in awe at the amount of food in there!! All nicely packaged, even the pho condiments too! WOW… he even insisted on helping me out to my car… I could not wait to get home…
Upon arrival, I had SO circling as I carefully unpacked everything. The first thing we dove for was the Eggrolls… I LOVE Vietnamese egg rolls because they are mostly MEAT!! Little meaty fingers with none of that slimy cabbage or sprouts…
The order was a huge one! Five cigar sized beauties. We each wrapped them up in the lettuce leaves and then dipped in sauce (All found within ‘the box!’) and were pretty darn happy. The shell could have been a WEE crisper. The filling was obviously pork, but with another seasoning we just could not place. I hate to use the word “Bizzare” but it was definitely different…
Next up came the Pho, I admit perhaps I don’t get the Pho thing because my favorite version is actually Pho Ga. Chicken! This versions sadly wasn’t as good as I hoped. It wasn’t bland, just kinda flat. The condiments helped out a lot, but it was missing that Pho ‘soul’…
After a few sips, I kinda just let it alone to ‘mellow’ and served myself some Chicken Curry! This was SPECIAL. It reminded me a lot Thai Panang Curry, but with more balance and this ‘velvet’ texture. There as also a TON of chicken in there too!
Finally, I had ordered something from the ‘Chef’ specialties menu, Veggies. In this case it was Baby Bok Choy! One of our favorites. It looked great! But sadly the flavor was BLAND. No savoriness, no green, just kinda watered down. THIS was bizarre. It was even weirder because of all the dishes, THIS was the most expensive… Hmmm…
All in all, a good meal, but not at all what I had hoped it to be. But oddly enough, now I know where to go when I get a Thai Curry craving.. :)
Lee Kam Kee Vietnamese
2505 W Valley Blvd
Alhambra, CA 91803
I finally tried Lee Kam Kee today, after driving by the place for almost a year. I only had time to get an order of summer rolls and the salty lemon soda. Both were quite good. The service was fast, and the food was fresh.
The summer rolls had a nice flavor to them, and I really liked the dipping sauce that came with them. It was one of the better dipping sauces that I've tried in the last year. The salty lemon soda was also good. The only problem was I wish that I had more time to sit and enjoy the meal. I will have to return some other time to try some of the other dishes.
The other thing is the total came to almost $9, not including tip. I could get much cheaper spring (or summer) rolls from Baguette du Jour across the street for a few dollars. The dining room of Lee Kam Kee is nicer though-- it's larger and is more of a sit-down restaurant, while Baguette du Jour is more of a cafe/take-out place. I also liked the sauce at Lee Kam Kee better.
One thing to note is that they serve the wide rice noodles (the beef chow fun type) instead of the usual thin rice noodles with their pho. I usually prefer that type of noodle with soup, so I don't mind.
My family and I used to go there all the time. Their bun noodle is also on the thick side, which I find kind of weird. The thick noodles taste more bland because less of the sauce sticks on it I guess.
It's hit or miss there. Sometimes, the broth in the pho will taste great, but the last few times I've been there, the broth was too thin and they seemed to have skimped on the meat.
I'd rather go to the other pho places around SGV if it were just me and some pho-enthusiasts, but Lee Kam Kee is good for the variety of other foods they have.
I'll chime in on the Alhambra Pho scene and state that my steadfast fave is superbowl, on Main, about 1 block west of Mission. It's in a very small strip mall but very clean, with tasty, CLEAR soup. I feel as tho the soup at Pho 79 and others have rather cloudy soup, but I really like clear soup with fresh-tasting flavor, which is what Superbowl gives.
I'm a fan of Superbowl too. Eventhough it's only a few hundred yards away from Golden Deli and Vietnam House, we tend to eat at Superbowl more often. It's just easier to get in and out, find parking, get service, and is dang cheap. Overall, it is way more relaxing eating at Superbowl.